Fantasia 2013 – “Shield Of Straw” Hit The Spot, But Not In A Traditional Miike Way

Takashi Miike’s Shield Of Straw was the opening film for the 2013 Fantasia Film Festival, and although I feel it’s a hit in a non-traditional Takashi Miike way, I don’t think it should have been the film to kick start the annual film festival in Montreal.

Come on, this type of festival needs to kick people in the face with something a little more extreme and bizarre in my opinion. The scariest part of this thriller was when the Warner Bros. logo appeared before the credits, leaving me helpless and stuck in a chair thinking this might be a mainstream film. I was partially wrong because Shield Of Straw still hit borderline details one doesn’t want to hear about, thanks to good old Miike. Since I’m a huge fan of his older work and I respect any effort he puts out, Shield Of Straw still kicked ass for a number of reasons.

Shield of Straw

First, the concept of the story is great. Shield Of Straw tests the morality of four top agents who’s assignment is to protect and transport a suspect who brutally killed a 7-year-old girl. That might sound easy enough, but the catch is the grandfather of the little girl has a billion yen payoff for anyone that kills the suspect under two conditions. This causes one heck of a challenge for the agents since they don’t really know who is watching them with the intention to take up the once-in-a-lifetime offer. Citizens, nurses, and even cops all want a piece of this scumbag for that reward. Hell, he beat up a little girl until she was unrecognizable and came on her eye lids, according to the doctor.

I’ll tell you straight up, disposing his life early on would have saved a lot of lives throughout this action packed film. Kill counts creep up at a moderate rate as the agents try to reach the destination with the suspect alive.

Shield of Straw

Interestingly, actor Tatsuya Fujiwara (Battle Royale) who plays the suspect does an excellent job of bringing doubt to whether or not his character is innocent at times; his appearance and behavior belie the crime. However, director Miike likes to put your ass back into reality from time to time and show you how evil the suspect truly is. This happens throughout Shield Of Straw and I feel it’s one of the stronger draws of the film until the climax. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely applies in the case of this suspect. By the end of it all you definitely have the urgency to kill him.

The Verdict [rating:3]

If you’re wanting a taste of director Takashi Miike for the first time and you don’t want to dive into his traditional work, then Shield Of Straw is a great option for you. Fans looking for something with a lot more violence and weirdness might want to check out his other new release, Lessons of Evil, instead. At the very least, audiences of Shield of Straw won’t walk away disappointed, even if Miike is known to be a hit or miss. Shield Of Straw is solid new film by him, a genius in my opinion who still to this day pumps out nearly three films a year. That’s just insane!

Shield of Straw
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Year Released:
26 April 2013 (Japan)
Takashi Miike
Nanako Matsushima, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Takao Osawa
Official URL:
Shield of Straw

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